Tonawanda News

Features

August 1, 2013

CRITTER COMPANIONS: Recognize dehydration in pets

At work our five male naked mole rats had thirteen babies. I guess this means that one of them was incorrectly sexed. The female and babies were separated due to the history of the rest of the colony killing the babies. Who knew naked mole rats could get jealous?

Naked mole rats live in a similar manner to ants. They live underground, dig tunnels and have one queen that has all the offspring. They all have a specific job, including digging tunnels, protecting the entrances from predators and finding food. 

Naked mole rats are from the arid parts of Africa. The foods that they gather are root vegetables. In the wild they acquire their water from their food.

We placed the mother and babies in an enclosure that had bedding, PVC and cardboard tubes, a heat source and food. They get fed a variety of vegetables including carrots, white and sweet potatoes, parsnips and a pelleted herbivore. In the past we never gave them additional water. I asked the veterinarian if we could give the mother some additional water. He said as long as it was the size of a bottle cap. It needed to be shallow enough for the babies not to drown.

In the wild they get enough water content from the foods that they gather, but in captivity maybe a nursing mother cannot. The vet said that many animals that live under human care have trouble getting enough water. 

The nutrient-infused pellets and kibble that we feed to our pets are dense because they have been concentrated. Through the concentration process water evaporates and salt is added to prolong the shelf life. Water allows the body to function properly and by decreasing the water content in our pets’ food our pets are now inclined to become dehydrated.

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